church order, chapter, archidiacon, canon

Saint bishop of the Sopronbánfalva church
Esztergom - Signet
Church administration
church order

It is an expression used in many senses. Firts of all it means the influence of consecrating priests, that is spiritual power and its grades. As there are several ranks among priests, the bearers of these ranks from down to the top are called the following: porter, devil-buster, reader, candle-holder, vice service-priest, service-priest, mass-priest, bishop. The consecration to the different ranks followed one another gradually. But church order can also mean the totality of the bearers of this power, who had been separated form other groups of society by the same rights and privileges from the ancient times, and in the socio-historical sense of the word they formed a separate social group for the first time.



Since the 6th century a board of priests organised after monastic patterns, who lived according to strict rules (e.g.: in celibacy) in contrast with the priests of their own church. They were connected to the bishop more closely. The residential chapters united the priests of bishopric cathedrals, while communal chapters were usually founded by private persons. The members of the chapter lived according to the rules of St Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, who composed his rules on the base of St Benedict's Regulations in the beginning of the 9th century. In the beginning they lived a common life, but later the canons moved to separate households (this is how the so-called canon-rows were created in bishopric residential towns), and gathered only for the compulsory prayers. Bishopric and chapter properties were separated then, later the canons divided chapter and canon properties among themselves. In the chapter room and the church each canon had his own seat (stallum), and if he performed his canon duties, he received a regular salary from the incomes of the chapter estate and the from other sources of income of the chapter. The priests of the chapter were organised in a hierarchical order: at the top there was the prepost (if there was a communal chapter or a prepostery at the bishopric residence, then it was called the great prepost), then came the so-called column canons or bearers of other offices (dean, reader canon, cantor), then the main deans, who moved to bishopric residences by the end of the 12th century, and finally the simple canons, and those who substituted them: the benefice-priests and choir priests. By the beginning of the 13th century the right of residential chapters to elect a bishop became stable. In Hungary the the residential chapters were established during St Ladislaus's reign the latest, but communal chapters were founded earlier, by kings Stephen (Székesfehérvár) and Peter (Óbuda). Chapters were the centers of literacy in the countryside during the 12-13th centuries, and the members could study at foreign universities using the benefice. The estates of canons of biggers chapters were often presented to the clergymen who served the ruler by the king himself, but from the 13th century the Pope often reserved the right of presenting estates to himself.


archidiacon (Greek-Latin "dean")

The head of deans in bishopric cathedrals from the 4th century AD. His duty changed in the course of time. In the 9-13th centuries it was an independent dignitary title, the rival of the bishop, and his office had nothing to do with the that of the archidiacon of earlier ages. There were several archidiacons in a church district with their own land and authority having jurisdiction over the estate, and its government became separated from the bishop. His office was connected to a canon stallum till his death, he was appointed by the canon, and not the bishop.



Originally those ecclesiastical persons were called canons (clericus canonicus) who lived according to ecclesiastical laws (canon). Later the name referred to the board of secular priests, who lived a communal life (communis vita), they were members of the chapter (capitulum). They helped the bishop and archbishop to perform their duties in governing the church, and they practised cathedral liturgy together. Their community in Hungary broke up in the middle of the 13th century; then they lived in houses in separate streets of towns (Canon street). The head of chapters was the prepost.